Downton Abbey extra teaches St Albans students about First World War
A FIRST World War expert who has been an extra on hit ITV show Downton Abbey has visited a St Albans secondary school to take pupils back in time to the Great War, ahead of last weekend’s Remembrance Day services.
Richard Knight, who runs educational programmes and has undertaken advisory work on films, spent half a day with Year 9 history students at Beaumont School, Oakwood Drive.
They learned about local soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War.
Pupils used census documents and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website to identify some of the 640-plus men that St Albans lost as a result of the conflict and to get a picture of their lives before they joined up.
Richard brought the harsh reality of life for a soldier into the classroom and helped students build up a mental picture of what life in the trenches was like.
The 13 and 14 year olds handled and tried on an array of uniforms, weapons and other items – from greatcoats that soaked up the mud like sponges to gas masks and grenades.
The students also watched a video about Harry Patch, the last British survivor of the First World War trenches, who died in 2009 at the age of 111.
- 1 Suspected loan sharks arrested in Hemel Hempstead
- 2 Meet the artist behind The Queen's Platinum Jubilee mural in St Albans
- 3 Building company resurfaces bridleway to provide safe route for riders and walkers
- 4 St Albans shop showcasing small independents by renting out shelves
- 5 See inside this loft style apartment in a former hat factory
- 6 Foodies queue to try street food sourced, cooked and served in Herts
- 7 MoonWalk success for the St Albans cancer survivor and her Belgian Buns
- 8 Train timetable shakeup due in St Albans and Watford from May 15
- 9 Company of Ten's A Bunch of Amateurs production 'milks the comedy for all its worth' at the Abbey Theatre
- 10 Harpenden neighbours condemn plans for builders merchant next to residential properties
Some of the pupils made a memorial tree to honour the local soldiers they had identified through their research.
Students said afterwards that they gained an appreciation of those who had sacrificed themselves for future generations, and the lesson had prompted them to quiz family members about their relatives.
They also looked around St Albans for evidence of family members or the soldier they had researched on local wall plaques and the War Memorial in the centre of the city.